SEATTLE – Council President Bruce Harrell and Councilmembers Sally Bagshaw, Lisa Herbold and Debora Juarez issued the following statement in response to allegations of abuse in the Seattle Times against Mayor Ed Murray:
“Allegations of abuse must be taken seriously at all times. Despite serious allegations that Mayor Ed Murray committed acts of misconduct, there have been no judicial findings or conclusions that he committed an offense or willfully violated any laws. The Mayor is entitled to due process and legal counsel.
“Although the City Council may act as a court of impeachment, our powers to do so are limited by our City Charter. Article V, Section 10 of the City Charter regarding ‘Removal of Mayor’ states:
‘The Mayor may be removed from office after a hearing, for any willful violation of duty, or for the commission of an offense involving moral turpitude, upon written notice from the City Council at least five days before the hearing. He or she shall have the right to be present, to the aid of counsel, to offer evidence and to be heard in his or her own behalf. Upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members of the City Council, acting as a court of impeachment, the office shall become vacant.’
“As we speak today, there has been no proof that he has “willfully violated” his duties. The Mayor has directed staff in the necessary transitions this fall to a new mayoral administration and these are necessary steps for a successful transition.
“Today, we have received calls and emails from survivors of sexual assault who are reliving their own experiences. Many are coming forward to add their voice to the discussion. We are listening to their voices; each of us knows survivors and we underscore our concerns for each person. The Council will continue to support survivors, advocates, and those agencies that provide critical support to survivors and their families.
“Allowing due process to proceed before the courts or other competent tribunal does not lessen our compassion and understanding of victims who have been assaulted. These crimes are unspeakable and require the utmost attention from our legal and social service system no matter how long ago they might have occurred. Collectively, we appeal to the Mayor to stop referring to the criminal background of his accusers. This re-traumatizes survivors and hinders the City’s efforts to enact policy to assist people who have criminal backgrounds.
“Our primary focus will be to assure that the City’s best interests are being served and we have an effective transition in mayoral administrations.”
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